Jan 072013

orange county

This is a new weekly segment where I [Chris Elena] recommend a movie that was released at a point (Could have been 5 or even 50 years ago) and which was not recognised as a great movie, or even as a great piece of entertainment at the time. Picks will vary each week as I’m constantly asked what good movies are out there and haven’t been seen; or I’m given the description of a film with the title unknown. .

These are what I like to call: The Forgotten… Here at An Online Universe, we’d like to give them a shout out, and give you another great film to add to your ‘to watch’ list.

So let’s begin!
The year is 2002, and we start the very first post off with a comedy…starring Jack Black.

Colin Hanks stars as Shaun Brumder, a smart high school student who dreams of becoming a writer and attending Stanford university. This is for 2 reasons – 1, so he can leave Orange County, a place where everyone surfs and relies on their rich parents to get them into a good school; and 2, so he can escape his crazy family who are past falling apart. His family consists of his alcoholic mother (Catherine O’Hara), his old and delapadated step-father who doesnt know what day it is (George Murdock), his selfish money-hungry biological father (John Lithgow) and finally his constantly stoned and possibly psychotic brother Lance (Jack Black).

Due his Guidance Counsellor sending the wrong transcript to Stanford in error, Shaun is rejected by his dream college. In fears he’ll never leave Orange County, he travels to Stanford along with Lance and his girlfriend, Ashley (Schuyler Fisk) in hopes to getting the error sorted and somehow get accepted in Stanford.

But of course things don’t go as planned; People are accidentally drugged, buildings burn down and epiphany’s are had. This isn’t your run of the mill road trip film with a wacky family thrown in; it’s a lot crazier than that, and has a heart bigger than Orange County itself. It also contains what would have to be one of the best soundtracks to any film I’ve heard…well, ever.

orange county colin hanks

I do want to be a writer and because of this I really recognised Shaun’s dreams and his trying to realise them. The film doesn’t specifically look at the plight of a young writer, but more so anyone who has ever had a dream and found it difficult to achieve said dream or goal, whether it’s due to the environment, or the people who surround you. Orange County lovingly embraces its characters and invites you to laugh with, and love these people.

Above all, why worth revisiting if you’ve already seen it? How many funny & smart comedies were released last year? Orange County is that wonderful collection of both smarts and effective humour, and it only gets better with age. Be reminded what it’s like follow a protagonist who has half a brain and doesn’t resort to stupidity or nastiness to make us laugh or care for them.

It was released in 2002 to mixed reviews and an okay box office performance, which was  partly due to Jack Black’s involvement. However, it deserves far more recognition than it has ever received. Orange County is a smart comedy with life lessons and insights which almost seems like a myth these days.

Cherish this, there aren’t many of its kind left.


By Chris Elena